Livestock Fish Matter(s): Roundup of program highlights, May 2013

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This is the first of a regular roundup of news from the CGIAR Livestock and Fish research program. Launched in January 2012, the program aims to increase the productivity of small-scale livestock and fish systems in sustainable ways, making meat, milk and fish more available and affordable to poor consumers across the developing world. Download a print version

Program news

First annual report
After a period of engagement and design, the program started in January 2012. Published in April 2013 its first annual report gives insights into progress, achievements and challenges.

Patricia Rainey new program support coordinator for Livestock and Fish
On 10 April 2013, Patricia Rainey joined ILRI as program support coordinator for the CGIAR research programs on Livestock and Fish and Agriculture for Nutrition and Health.

Pathways to deliver impact: The program’s theory of change
Among the fundamentals of a good research program is the ability to demonstrate how the program will deliver the promise of creating positive change to the target population. Theory of Change defines the pathways through which a program will deliver these promises, highlighting the key assumptions and likely risks the program faces. A 2 day workshop in January 2013 helped refine the program’s Theory of Change.

Partnership critical success factor
On 27 October 2012, the program organized a pre-conference session on ‘Mobilizing AR4D partnerships to improve access to critical animal-source foods’ at the Second Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD). Twenty-five people including invited resource persons and the directors general of three of the CGIAR centers involved in the program wrestled with ways to make partnership work for the program – to answer program director Tom Randolph’s question: “What principles, processes, modalities help create healthy partnership?”

Country updates – value chain innovation

Defining best-bet interventions for the Uganda smallholder pig value chain
The Livestock and Fish team working on the smallholder pig value chain in Uganda held a two day workshop in April 2013 to identify potential best-bet interventions based on the value chain assessment work. Participants carefully reviewed the results of the in-depth value chain assessments conducted in the 3 districts where the project operates. They also reviewed knowledge available from previous research and practical experiences on pig production in Uganda and other parts of the world, like China and South East Asia.

Best-bets are interventions which better fit the prevailing conditions (constraints and opportunities) under which farmers and other value chain actors operate and have more chance to be adopted and contribute towards improving the current situation.

Austria funds Livestock and Fish project to increase the productivity of dual-purpose cattle in Nicaragua
In December 2012, the Austrian Development Agency approved a three-year research project from ILRI, the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (BOKU), CIAT and the National Agricultural University of Nicaragua (UNA) on ‘increasing the productivity of dual-purpose cattle in Nicaragua — More milk and meat through better breeds.’

Targeting small ruminant value chains in Ethiopia – Emerging ‘best bets’
In early April 2013 the Ethiopian partners in the program joined the last of three workshops to take stock of the results of small ruminant value chain assessments in 8 sites. Together, 67 individuals from the sites and other partners joined the workshops. These came from research, academic, NGO, private companies, as well as international research organizations. The objectives of the workshops were to: share and validate results from the rapid VC assessment in the 8 sites; draft a vision/outcome statement for each VC site; Identify and prioritize best bet interventions for each site; develop intervention plans for each site; and Identify emerging cross-cutting issues by research components – breeding, feeding, health, gender.

Iceboxes help women fish retailers find profits
A group of women fish retailers in the Egyptian region of Shakshouk are realizing better profits from the sale of their fish after acquiring iceboxes. Iceboxes help them keep their fish fresh in the market, allowing them to sell more stock each day. The iceboxes were supplied by WorldFish and CARE Egypt as part of the larger “Improving Employment and Income through Development of Egypt’s Aquaculture Sector” project that supports women retailers who sell fish in rural markets or at the road-side. Without ice to keep their fish in good condition throughout the day, many women find they have to discard the last few kilograms of their stock at the end of the day due to exposure to heat and dust. WorldFish has invested in Egyptian aquaculture for more than 20 years, and is committed to developing the aquaculture industry, and generating employment for the millions of men and women that depend on the sector for income and food security.

Vietnam stakeholders discuss sites and impact pathways
In Vietnam, the ILRI-led Livestock and Fish research program focuses on smallholder pig value chains. As part of the planned activities for 2013, ILRI organized a stakeholder consultation workshop in Hanoi on 22 March 2013. The workshop aimed to identify a short list of priority research sites that fit the characteristics of three target value chain (VC) gradients: Rural to rural (R2R), rural to peri-urban/urban (R2U), and peri-urban to urban (U2U). A set of GIS maps were presented to the stakeholders for discussions; these identified the list of provinces that met the thresholds for the geographical targeting (pigs, poor people, market access) and the VC gradient classification (% of province area that represent each VC gradient type).

A set of priority site selection criteria was presented and the recurring elements that stood out as important according were 1) the expressed willingness by the political leadership to engage with ILRI and its collaborators, 2) the potential for building synergies with development and other ongoing initiatives, and 3) dynamism that will enable the capture of temporal and spatial changes in the process of transformation and better contextualize the dynamics across the different VC gradients.

Uganda farmer explains smallholder pig value chain priorities
In recent months, Livestock and Fish value chain assessment activities have been carried out in Masaka district as part of the Uganda Smallholder Pig Value Chains Development (SPVCD) and Safe Food, Fair Food (SFFF) projects. On 22 April 2013, Pastor Lukwago, one of the farmers approached by the project team, was unfortunately unavailable to meet the team when they came to collect blood samples from his pigs and administer a house hold questionnaire. However his wife shared a letter that captures the project work.

Assessing food safety and food nutrition in food chains
WorldFish, in collaboration with ILRI, is undertaking two complementary projects in Egypt to better understand the dual demands of safety and nutrition in food value chains. The Egyptian stream of the ACIAR funded Rapid Integrated Assessment project, brings together an international team of food safety and policy experts from WorldFish; ILRI; the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI); Kafr el Sheikh University, Egypt; and the Royal Veterinary College, University of London. It builds on work carried out under the GIZ funded Safe Food Fair Food (SFFF) project.

Adapting dairy market hubs for pro-poor smallholder value chains in Tanzania
ILRI, Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) and other partners in Tanzania are embarking on a 4-year (2013-2016) research-for-development (R4D) project targeted at improving rural based livelihoods through milk. This comes after the 2012, 1-year successful inception phase of a collaborative research project titled, ‘More Milk in Tanzania’ between ILRI and SUA funded by Irish Aid. These resources support the commitment of Irish Aid to the CGIAR change process and more specifically the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish, where Tanzania’s smallholder dairy is one of the targeted value chains. A new project office for this new phase was officially launched on 12 March 2013 by the Irish Minister of State for Trade and Development, Joe Costello.

The inception of the ‘MoreMilkiT’ project enabled the ILRI-SUA partnership to have a better understanding of the policy environment and appropriate entry points to impact on the poor and marginalised; identify and consult a wide range of stakeholders; conduct a situational assessment nationally and value chain assessments within identified sites; and initiate a process for strengthening the policy environment to better support pro-poor dairying. The findings generated so far suggest the program needs to focus attention on ‘growing’ the existing informal system of milk production and marketing.

Characterizing goat genetic resources in Ethiopia
In December 2012, ICARDA and ILRI ran a training course for national partners and collaborators on methods and approaches for phenotypic characterization of animal genetic resources.

“For genetic resources to contribute to food security goals, we need to know what we have, be able to improve them, be able to prioritize to effectively utilize them, and conserve them for the next generation” – Solomon Abegaz, director of Ethiopia’s Institute of Biodiversity Conservation

The course brought together ‘trainees’ from federal and regional agricultural research centers and universities. It covered the conceptual framework for animal genetic resources (AnGR) characterization, an operational framework of AnGR, data collection, management and analysis, reporting and communication, a checklist of actions and provided a practical session in the field.

Aquaculture conference showcases latest technologies
One of the largest aquaculture and aquarium shows in Asia, Aqua Aquaria India 2013, was held in India in February 2013. Aquaculture and Genetic Improvement scientist, Dr. Curtis Lind, made a presentation based on a WorldFish publication entitled ‘Considerations about the dissemination of improved fish strains.’ The publication summarizes key strategies, knowledge and experience related to the multiplication and dissemination of improved fish strains, and makes recommendations on how some of the practices may be improved. If implemented, these improved practices may help fish farmers increase the productivity and profitability of their farms

Adopting improved animal feeding systems in Southeast Asia
Until recently, livestock husbandry in Vietnam’s Central Highlands was not very productive. Animals were intermittently sold to free-up cash to put towards weddings or large purchases, and the rest of the time they were left free to graze on native pasture and crop residues. To help revitalize these livestock systems, researchers at CIAT have been testing different kinds of improved forages and developing improved management strategies with farmers.

Research theme updates

Planning the value chain development component
In December 2012, leaders of the various value chain development projects in the program and other team members met to coordinate their plans and priorities across the countries and chains. The meeting started with situation reports from each of the value chain coordinators: Smallholder pigs in Uganda, smallholder dairy in Tanzania, small ruminants in Ethiopia, small to medium-scale aquaculture in Egypt, smallholder dairy in India, smallholder pigs in Vietnam and smallholder dairy in Honduras and Nicaragua. Participants were updated on the rapid value chain assessment toolkit that is supporting ongoing work across the countries among others.

What, how and who, targeting component specifies deliverables
In December 2012, program partners convened a meeting of the ‘targeting and environment component’. The meeting aimed to finalize a log frame and agree on a clear set of activities, deliverables, and milestones as well as assign responsibilities to the team members.

Targeting is a process that is driven by activities such as site characterization, data collection and impact assessment. It involves the use of tools such as spatial modeling and future scenarios and working with partners to create intelligence that can be used to plan context-specific interventions. It aims to provide evidence to inform and enable those conducting research to make informed choices about what to do where. This component should be able to ensure that program staff, partners and decision makers select the most promising value chains and sites to focus their efforts and investments for significant impact and wider scaling out. One of the key outcomes of the two days planning meeting was an agreement by the team to re-name the component ‘targeting sustainable interventions’ from ‘targeting and environment’.

Gender component refines approaches to integrate gender in the program
The gender component of the program provides “cross‐cutting analysis of development process and outcomes to ensure that the target beneficiaries of the program including women and vulnerable groups benefit from targeted interventions”. It is concerned to ensure that gender and equity are mainstreamed in a transformative way in the whole program. In November 2012, the gender component team held a planning meeting to refine and develop a final strategy, log frame and action plan.

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